Seaford is taking steps to clear way for an apartment complex

By Lynn R. Parks

The city of Seaford is moving ahead with approving new zoning laws that would permit the construction of a 72-unit apartment complex in downtown. The city council Tuesday night heard the first reading of the new ordinance.

Council members had no objection to the ordinance; it will be brought back to the next meeting, Feb. 26, for a second reading and a vote.

The Residences at River Place are being planned for a piece of property that runs between the Nanticoke River and Water Street, east of Gateway Park.

As designed, the complex would not comply with the city's current requirements for construction in downtown. The buildings would be too tall. There would be too many units per building as well as too many units per acre and there would be too few parking spaces.

The complex would also be out of compliance with requirements regarding minimum unit size and maximum lot coverage. At the Jan. 22 city council meeting, Eugene Bayard, with the Georgetown law firm Wilson, Halbrook and Bayard, representing the developer, asked the city to write a new zoning ordinance that would allow the project to proceed.

The new ordinance creates a mini-zone within the city's Riverfront Enterprise Zone.

That mini-zone will apply only to downtown properties that front the Nanticoke.

In the new zone, lot coverage can be up to 60 percent. Lot coverage in the rest of the Enterprise Zone is limited to 40 percent. Buildings can be 50 feet tall as opposed to the 35-foot limit in the rest of the zone. There can be only 25 dwelling units per acre and only 25 dwelling units per building. Below-ground apartments are not permitted.

The new ordinance also includes a provision for requesting a waiver from the zoning regulations: "The area and bulk requirements may be modified or waived for any riverfront residential use, with the approval of the city council when such modification of waiver is found to be appropriate and consistent with the intent of the district."

The Residences at River Place complex would be made up of two buildings. It would have a clubhouse and pool, as well as open space to allow residents room for recreation. Plans also call for construction of a marina.

The buildings would be 58 feet tall to allow for some parking space to be put underneath them. Salisbury architect Keith Fisher, who designed the project, told the city council that that would allow more of the grounds to be designated to open and recreational space.

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